The Project Manager Blog

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5 Ways To Improve Project Communications

Reading reports of failed projects in the newspapers I often see that one of the things that frequently goes wrong is that the project team doesn’t communicate well. You might have heard that most of a project manager’s job is actually about communication – not scheduling, risk management or resource planning! I think that’s true. Unless people know why they are doing the project and how much progress is being made, it’s too easy for poor communication to stop the project moving forward or to create problems such as two people working on the same task or having to do something again ...
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5 Things That Will Kill Your Project

Recently, a fellow project manager found herself out of work because her project had been stopped. Overnight, her contract was ended as the project was cancelled. When we caught up for a coffee a couple of weeks later we talked about what went wrong, and she was very gracious in admitting that it was her project management skills that had let the project down. She hadn’t spotted some of the warning signs so she hadn’t been able to take any mitigating actions to stop things from going wrong. As a result, a couple of factors conspired to kill her project and there was nothing she could do ab...
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Avoid These 5 Planning Mistakes

How good is your project plan? The plan provides so much of the information that you need to run your project that it really is worth taking the time to make sure that it is as good as possible. The better your plan, the better it will serve you and the project team and help you keep everything on track. Having said that, it’s easy to overlook some simple things that could make your plan so much better. Let me tell you about the top 5 planning mistakes that we see on schedules over and over again. Mistake #1: No Milestones Your software for project planning is designed to include milest...
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5 Ways That Assigning Tasks Helps You Manage Your Project

Got a task list? Added in some milestones? Worked out what order the tasks have to go in? Great! Have you assigned someone to every task? No? Why not? It might seem as if resource allocation – the act of assigning a project team member to work on a particular activity on the project plan – is a bit of a waste of time. After all, it should be relatively easy to do this on an ad hoc basis as the project progresses by simply talking to the project team members regularly. You might feel this will save lots of time using scheduling software to create resources and allocate them to bits of wo...
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5 Ways To Share Knowledge With Your Team

This is something I hear a lot: “I wish I had known that…” followed by something like: “Emma could do that,” or “the document existed already,” or “that Finance used that process.” Well, someone on your team probably does know all that already, and the difficulty is in finding out who and getting the knowledge out of their heads. This doesn’t happen automatically. People don’t know what others don’t know so they don’t volunteer information. Or you could work in a culture where people don’t share information with their colleagues routinely. You can change that on ...
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What You Should Know About Project Dashboards

It’s thought that the term ‘dashboard’ comes from the panel on a horse-drawn cart that stopped the driver being splashed with dirt from the horses’ hooves. These days, dashboards are a feature of other road vehicles, displaying data about the journey and driving conditions (still in front of the driver, though). And, of course, the term is also used for reports that show key data about something, such as projects. Dashboards are a really underrated project tool. Too often project managers rely on project status reports when a project dashboard would be more useful. I believe the rea...
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5 Habits Of Successful Project Managers

What does a successful project manager do? We’ve worked with hundreds of project managers over the years (some less successful than others, but we won’t name any names!). Over time we’ve picked up a number of trends – these show up time and time again as the habits of people who are successful at managing projects. We thought it was time to share these with you so that you can also adopt these ways of working. Below you’ll find the 5 top habits of successful project managers. How many of these habits do you already have? 1. Managing The Team The project team won’t manage thems...
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What’s In Your Job Description?

You do have a job description, don’t you? It’s a really valuable document that sets out what your roles and responsibilities are for the project and on a wider basis. It often forms part of the official contract between you and your employer so it is worth getting one formalized if you don’t have a job description yet. Job descriptions can be long or short, detailed or high level, and provided you feel it is clear and your employer is happy, any format will do. The important thing is that it explains what you are accountable for and the context of your role. There are lots of differen...
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What’s Your Project Management Skills Gap?

Project managers are expected to be all round performers. We are supposed to have a good mix of technical skills like scheduling and expense management, and the soft skills that it takes to run a team like leadership and communication. However, I’m certainly not an expert in everything in the project management manuals, and I have yet to meet a project manager who excels in every area. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of being able to say, “Well, I’m not very good at risk management so I won’t do that on this project.” Every project needs every technique to a certain exten...
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5 Things NOT To Say To Your Project Team

I get to travel to lots of different office locations and I’ve worked and consulted with many companies over the years. It’s given me a great insight into how different firms work (or don’t work), and I’ve got to spend time with plenty of project management teams. While I’ve seen lots of examples of good practice with teams working well together and project managers taking the lead and managing effectively, I’ve also seen some shocking examples of poor team management. Mostly, this takes the form of people not knowing what to say and saying something completely inappropriate or ...
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